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Farmers’ property rights under siege

9 August 2010

“BESIEGED farmers are demanding answers,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie declared. “Amid converging government, environmental and mining encroachment on our ability to farm, farmers feel frustrated and disempowered.

“Be it federal and state governments conspiring to do farmers out of legitimate land use without proper compensation, miners usurping land and water rights at will or environmentalists telling us what we can and can’t do on our land, Australia’s farmers have had a gut-full.

“What we want is certainty over future land use and compensation for travesties committed in the past. Full and adequate compensation must be provided where property rights are compulsorily acquired by governments or where farmers are required to undertake management practices above and beyond their normal duty of care.

“Australian farmers are justifiably proud of their sound environmental management. In fact, 94% of farmers practise natural resource management as a matter-of-course, recognising that the preservation of their natural resources is vital for their future livelihoods.

“At a time when food and fibre production is more important than ever, farmers are increasingly uncertain about our future and our rights as landholders. The property rights of farmers must be respected in relation to government decisions affecting land and water entitlements to give us confidence to invest in and run farm businesses.

“The desire for governments to regulate environmental outcomes must be viewed in this context. Too often we are seeing the emergence of governments assuming a property right, while leaving the title with the owner. Enough is enough.

“Whether it is in relation to rights surrounding carbon credits, water, natural resource management or mining’s interaction with farming resources, this imbalance must be urgently corrected.

“At our upcoming 2010 National Congress in Melbourne, the NFF is putting property rights front-and-centre… especially analysing constitutional law and the increasing clash with mining and environmental interests.”

The NFF 2010 National Congress will hear from three high profile and outspoken proponents.

  • Professor George Williams from the University of NSW, who has provided advice into the NFF’s High Court challenge in the Spencer v Commonwealth case, will discuss the legal issues.
  • Mitch Hooke, Chief Executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, will address the mining-farming interface and its implications for the future of both sectors.
  • Dr Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, will explore the relationship between farmers and the environment. Are they mutually exclusive or, as the NFF insists, are they co-dependent?

The NFF’s 2010 National Congress runs over 6-7 September at The Grand Hyatt in Melbourne. Visit the Congress website for all details, including the full Congress Program.

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